Will Reducing the size of goalie equipment really make the game of hockey "better"
The last several years, a big debate in the NHL has been whether to reduce the size of goalie equipment or not. The NHL describes it is as a lack of scoring, but the way I see it is that it is a result of goalies getting improving every year. With the amount of different training methods goalies have access to ie. visual training, mental training, explosion training, yoga, video etc its no surprise we are improving every season. If the NHL decides to change the size of the gear, I don’t think it would have an affect. besides, they have tried this once already the In 2010-11 season. They instatuted the rule that a goalies pads couldn’t go higher than 55% of the distance between centre of the knee and the pelvis. They again changed the rule in 2013-14 season where that 55% dropped to 45% and a maximum height of no more than 9 inches above their knee . As the NHL changed the size of goalie equipment, we adapted, and prevailed. From 2010-11 season the goals against average in the NHL was 2.61, even with all the changes in equipment, the GAA has gone down to 2.47 in this years season so far . The GAA has gone down every year except one season in 2013-14 since reducing the size of the equipment. Interesting enough and a better reflection of a goalies individual success is save percentage, which has increased every single year from .913 in 2010-11 to .916 so far this season. We have technically adapted to smaller equipment and athletically it allows us to move faster.
The biggest question is; If the equipment size is again reduced, will there still be enough padding and protection so that goalies don’t get hurt? Pictured below is Jean Sebastian Gigueure from the Colorado Avalanche in the 2013-2014 season when the NHL reduced the length of goalie equipment. There is a lot of knee showing . Here is some food for thought. I know there are actualy some defencemans shin pads currently in the NHL, that measure slightly over 10" across. Pads are now 11" with rumblings of reducing it further.
The next question is, why do games need to have more goals to be "better". What about other sports, such as soccer. Soccer is the most popular and most watched sport in the world and one of the lowest scoring sports you can play. Objectively the principle of soccer is the exact same as hockey, the way to win the game is to score more than your opponent by putting an object in a net protected by the team and lastly a goalie. It's just as exciting see a diving game saving save in a 2-1 match with 3 minutes left than a meaningles 5th goal of a game. Personally I believe that a big momentum changing save is more exciting than many goals.
At the end of the day whatever the NHL decides, goalies will continue to adapt. We are already one of the most mentally tough hardest working athletes on the planet. Alain Vigneault was recently quoted as saying,
"Some people, they say there is not a lot of goals; it seems to me the hardest-working players on every team are the goaltenders. They're on 20 minutes before, and 20 minutes afer practice. They work on their skill, They have their own coaches. They all work on their game more than anybody else. If the other guys want to score more goals, work on your game because the goalies are. Goalies work so hard, if you look at the last 15-20 years, where the game has changed so much, its probably in that aspect. Those guys work, they work hard and long."